College Football New Mexico Bowl Betting Preview: UTEP Miners vs Utah State Aggies

2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl
UTEP Miners vs Utah State Aggies

University Stadium – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Saturday, December 20, 2014, 2:20 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Utah State -10 1/2
Current Line: Utah State -10
Opening Total: 50
Current Total: 46
Opening Money Line: Utah State -390 / UTEP +320
Current Money Line: Utah State -360 / UTEP +300

Utah State is a 10 point favorite against UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl Saturday.
Utah State is a 10 point favorite against UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl Saturday.

The 9-4 Utah State Aggies and 7-5 UTEP Miners meet Saturday in the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Utah State went 6-2 in the Mountain West Mountain Division. The Aggies tied with Colorado State for second behind 7-1 Boise State in the division. UTEP was 5-3 in the Conference USA West Division. The Miners tied for second in the division with Rice behind 7-1 Louisiana Tech. This is only the third meeting between UTEP and Utah State. The Aggies swept a home and home in 1960 and 1961.

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UTEP is coached by Sean Kugler. UTEP is 5-8 all-time in bowl games. The Miners are making their first trip to a bowl since 2010. UTEP has lost 5 straight bowl games and hasn’t won since the 1967 Sun Bowl in their own stadium. The Miners lost to BYU 52-24 in the 2010 New Mexico Bowl, the only previous trip to this bowl roughly 275 miles from their campus.

The Miners have a home loss to Texas Tech 30-26, plus road losses at Kansas State 58-28, Louisiana Tech 55-3, Western Kentucky 35-27 and Rice 31-13. UTEP has road wins at New Mexico 31-24 and UTSA 34-0, along with home wins over New Mexico State 42-24, Old Dominion 42-35, Southern Miss 35-14, North Texas 35-17 and Middle Tennessee 24-21 in the season finale. The Miners are 9-3 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. UTEP was a 2.5 point favorite against Middle Tennessee and the total was 52.

Utah State is coached by Matt Wells. The Aggies are 3-6 all-time in bowl games. The Aggies are playing in their fourth straight bowl game. Utah State has won 2 straight bowl games including a 21-14 win over Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl last season. The Aggies have never played in the New Mexico Bowl before.

Utah State has road losses at Tennessee 38-7, Arkansas State 21-14 in overtime, at Colorado State 16-13 and Boise State 50-19 to close out the regular season. The loss to Boise snapped a five game winning streak for Utah State and also cost the Aggies a spot in the Mountain West Championship game. The Aggies have home wins over Idaho State 40-20, Wake Forest 36-24, Air Force 34-16, UNLV 34-20, New Mexico 28-21 and San Jose State 41-7, along with road wins at BYU 35-20, Hawaii 35-14, and Wyoming 20-3. Utah State is 6-7 ATS and the total is 7-6 this season. The Aggies were 10 point underdogs against Boise State and the total was 54.5.

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UTEP is being outscored 29-28 this season. The Miners are averaging 360 total yards per game on offense including 144 passing and 215 rushing. UTEP is #33 in rushing, #120 in passing and #106 in total offense nationally out of 128 FBS teams. On defense, the Miners are allowing 373 total yards including 202 passing and 171 rushing yards. UTEP is in the top 50 nationally in both pass defense and total defense. The Miners are +8 in turnovers with 19 takeaways. UTEP averages 37 penalty yards per game and opponents average 47 per game. The Miners are 78/183 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 58/164. UTEP has forced 22 sacks and allowed 11 this season. The Miners are 35/41 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns and opponents are 34/39 with 28 touchdowns. UTEP has 5 special teams and defensive touchdowns and has allowed 4 this season.

UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers, a transfer from Texas A&M, has thrown for 1,732 yards with 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 83 carries for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns. Running back Aaron Jones has 217 carries for 1,233 yards with 11 touchdowns, plus 27 catches for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns. Nathan Jeffrey has 109 carries for 513 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 7 catches. Josh Bell has 49 carries for 243 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 8 catches. Receiver Ian Hamilton has 23 catches for 500 yards and two touchdowns. Autrey Golden has 31 catches for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 102 rushing yards and 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns. Jarrad Shaw and Eric Tomlinson will also get some catches.

Utah State is outscoring teams 27-21 this season. The Aggies are #21 in points allowed nationally. Utah State is averaging 382 yards per game on offense including 209 passing and 173 rushing yards. On defense, the Aggies are allowing 362 yards per game including 233 passing and 129 rushing yards. Utah State is #37 in total defense and #26 in rush defense. The Aggies are +10 in turnovers with 29 takeaways. Utah State is averaging 70 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 67. The Aggies are 60/193 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 88/237. Utah State has forced 48 sacks and allowed 24 this season. The Aggies are 28/36 scoring in the red zone with 19 touchdowns and opponents are 31/35 with 23 touchdowns. Utah State has 7 defensive and special teams touchdowns, and has allowed a pick six this season.

Remarkably Utah State has won 9 games this season using 4 different quarterbacks. Chuckie Keeton started the first three games before tearing his ACL. Darrell Garretson started the next five games before breaking his wrist. He is listed as questionable for the bowl game. Craig Harrison played in a couple of games as well and started the UNLV game. Kent Myers has started the last 5 games. Myers likely will start the bowl game but Garretson could see some action if able. Garretson has thrown for 1,140 yards with 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and has also rushed for 2 touchdowns. Myers has thrown for 798 yards with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and also has 41 carries for 240 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Running back LaJuan Hunt has 107 carries for 524 yards and a touchdown, plus 10 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. Jojo Natson has 45 catches for 458 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 49 catches for 457 yards and 2 touchdowns. Natson also has 2 punt returns for touchdowns. Joe Hill has 112 carries for 457 yards and 3 interceptions along with 7 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. Rashad Hall and Nick Vigil each have two rushing touchdowns. Receiver Hunter Sharp has 63 catches for 918 yards and 7 interceptions. Ronald Butler has 36 catches for 478 yards and 2 touchdowns. Butler has also thrown two touchdown passes. Devonte Robinson and  Wyatt Houston each have two touchdown catches. Jefferson Court has only 6 catches but 3 touchdowns.

Utah State is 7-1 ATS on grass, 12-3 after allowing more than 40 points, 16-5 against teams with winning records, 9-3-1 after scoring less than 20 points, 11-4-1 after a straight up loss, 5-2 after a straight up loss by 20 points or more, and after accumulating 275 total yards or less, 1-4 in non-conference games, and 1-7 after passing for less than 170 yards.

UTEP is 4-0 ATS after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, 6-1 overall, 4-1 after a cover, on grass, and after passing for less than 170 yards, and 3-7 against teams with winning records.

Utah State has overcome adversity all season, thanks mainly to their defense. UTEP is no slouch either on defense, and this could be a low scoring game. I think the Aggies win but 10 points seems like a lot.


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